by Jack Lee
The fear now is the shooting in Tucson will spark renewed gun control legislation and we’re already hearing rumblings on the left that is precisely what they intend to do.
“Okay, Mr. Right-winger, you tell me, how is it that a crazy man was able to purchase a handgun? We need a new law to fix this!”
Despite evidence that Jared Lee Loughner (shown left) is mentally unstable, he was never declared mentally unfit by a court. That means his name does not appear in the federal background-check database used by all AZ gun sellers.
The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 specifically prohibits the mentally ill from owning a firearm. But, to get there the mentally ill must go through a process to protect their rights and that wasn’t done – we don’t know why it wasn’t, but it’s worth looking into!
There have been at least six red flags that went up over the past few years indicating Jared Loughner, was dangerously unstable. According to the current law, if police have a reasonable cause to believe a mentally unstable person is in possession of a firearm and they are a danger to themselves or others, they can immediately remove said weapon/s for safe keeping until such time a proper court disposition can be made.
“Well, can’t you just walk in and buy a gun in Arizona almost any place and there’s no waiting period, isn’t that what Loughner did? There oughtta be a law…”
All weapons legally sold in Arizona must be registered, that is the law and the buyer can’t take possession until a background investigation is completed. Further, a photo ID is required for both handgun and long gun retail purchase. The Arizona Firearms Clearance Center does a background check on all gun purchases, including the federal instant check. A waiting period in Loughner’s case would have been pointless because he purchased the weapon 3 months ago, which far exceeds any waiting period in any state.
All Arizona law enforcement agencies have access to background information on firearm purchases, but do they all have the time or personnel to make good use of it? Both Tucson PD and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office were aware of Loughner’s bizarre behavior long before the shooting took place and obviously nobody took him to court for a mental hearing or did anyone attempt to remove any weapons from his residence. Why this didn’t happen is still an open question.
If we rewrite new gun control laws to further restrict legal, responsible gun owners, can we reasonably expect them to be any more effective than the current laws? Loughner fell through the cracks of the criminal justice system, despite the laws, not because of a lack of legal jurisdiction. That’s more of a personnel training problem, not a legal problem to be fixed by Congress. As it looks right now, it would seem both the mental health community and law enforcement dropped the ball – again, a lack of gun control laws was NOT the problem.
Bottom line: Stuff happens and even under the best of circumstances freedom still has some risk.